Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What I Read: June

Holy cow, I was talking to my friend Sharlie who is an avid reader and trying to get ideas for books I could read QUICKLY because I had 4 weeks to read 5 books to finish my challenge. She mentioned the Selection series and so I began.... 5 days and 3 books later I came up for air. I swear, I didn't look up from these books for a solid 5 days. Ridiculous. It's the Bachelor meets The Hunger Games. Fabulous. Teen fiction, so don't expect something extraordinarily well written and you're golden. Also, don't expect to be productive for one full week. 

I listened to this book while cleaning for a preschool party I threw. It's SUPER short. 3.5 hours, I think? Perfect when you're reading in a rush. In all seriousness, this book was lovely. It's a bit slow paced but well written and full of life. An elderly woman asks her neighbor to come and sleep with her at night. Not sex, but talking and hand holding and companionship. They're both widowed and living in a small town and the story is both the result of this proposition as well as the intertwining of their pasts. I thought it was really well done. 

As of about 10 minutes ago, I finished this book and therefore completed my year long challenge of reading 52 books in 52 weeks. This was book number 52. We're seeing Jim Gaffigan live in a few weeks and I've been wanting to read this book. It was great. I laughed out loud a lot and my kids always would find me laughing and join in because I was reading "the book about the man who married a hot dog".  Definitely worth a read! 

AND I'M DONE!! I have so much more to say about this challenge, including my top 10 books that I read in the past year as well as what I gained from reading so much. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

What I Read: May

This is a memoir written by a girl who began having extreme symptoms that led people to believe she was losing her mind. She writes about her experience going through this and how she found her way out of it by reviewing her father's journals, notes from the doctors, discussions with others and her own chicken scratch writing during this time. It was a quick read and sort of interesting... I didn't appreciate the writing style and ultimately I got tired of the same things being repeated (not that that's the writer's fault - it was just that her symptoms kept repeating themselves). Anyway, not my favorite. 

This was a re-read for me (I read it probably 10 years ago) and an important one as we enter the foster care world. Heartbreaking and maddening and overwhelming. This book has always stuck with me, and will continue to do so. A must read for everyone. 

The sequel to "A Child Called It" about Dave Pelzer's experience in foster care. This gave me some wonderful insight into a child's perspective within the system. There are some really amazing homes and people out there doing some wonderful work with kids like Dave. It's inspiring. 

This was the book club selection for May and I have to say I didn't know it was a comic book. Apparently that's what a graphic novel is? I had no idea. You learn something new every day, I tell you! Anyway, I LOVED this book. I would say it's one of my favorites from this year so far for sure. It's Roz Chast's experience with her parents growing old and ultimately passing, but told in such a relatable and funny way. In a way that makes it OK to talk about this very hard topic. I loved it and would recommend it to anyone! 

I picked up this book months ago and couldn't get past page 18 or so... but my BFF kept telling me that I HAD to fight through the first 50 pages so I did. And HOLY MOLY I loved this book. It's one of my all time favorites now. The story of a woman and her husband who have suffered many miscarriages and are unable to have a baby and what they do when a baby washes up on their tiny island with nobody to claim her. Such a huge moral debate with this story and I can't wait to discuss it with my book club in a few months! 

A woman who is in a long term relationship (20 plus years - so common law marriage) who's husband is a chronic cheater and ultimately leaves the marriage and how she copes and gets revenge. I sort of hated this book. It just fell short for me, but I know that many people like it so I think it might just be me! 

I sort of hated this book. It was just too dark. I don't know what I was expecting with Gillian Flynn being the author and DARK being in the title. I knew it wouldn't be bunnies and unicorns. But did it have to be so twisted, Gillian?? Anyway, if you like super dark and twisted, then go right ahead with this one! 

I'm down to 3 weeks left in the challenge and 5 books left!! UGH! Be prepared for many fluff books in June so I can get through this! 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What I Read: April

Ritchie and I listened to this on the way to CA in the car. Such a cute story! Not one of my favorite books of all time, but definitely a cute read (or listen! We loved the narrator). 

The rest of the month of April was spent on this beast. This 700 some odd page book didn't feel as long as it was. It's not a quick read, but the story definitely pulls you through. This book is FULL of possible triggers. If sexual abuse, trauma, cutting, suicide or just general fucked up ness bothers you, then DO NOT READ THIS BOOK. It's heavy on ALL of these topics. That's all I'm going to say because too much more would give it all away. It's moving and thought provoking and is a true testament to love and strength under the most impossible of circumstances. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Here We Go Again...

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Do you want to hear something really embarrassing about me? A psychic once said I would marry a good man, the one I was with (which was Ritchie) and that we would soon buy our first home (which we did) and that we would have 3 children, 2 biological and 1 adopted. Because the first two things happened pretty soon after his predictions, I naturally believed the third one to be true as well. When we found out Ben was a boy, I knew right then that was all part of the "plan". We had two boys and would adopt a girl and be done! Wow! Psychics really can predict the future!

Fast forward 2 years. We're in the adoption process and then BAM. Pregnant. A third biological child. Psychics make for terrible birth control. Okay, so we'll have 4 kids! No big deal! On with the plan with one minor hiccup. 

Fast forward 7 months. We decide to move to Washington. We knew this would alter our adoption plans to some degree. We'd have to redo our home study (which we'd have to do when Crosby was born anyway) and Ritchie took a significant pay cut when we moved, so saving money to continue the adoption would be slower. 

Fast forward 2 months. Crosby is born and we find out he has a heart condition. We don't know what the next year looks like for him and we're scared and overwhelmed and all we know is we definitely cannot handle two small children with medical needs. We change our adoption medical profile to be a girl who also has a minor heart condition, which keeps us on track for adoption but extends our time to be matched by 12-18 months. 

Fast forward one year. Crosby is one. He has had no changes in his condition and hasn't required surgery. Once he reached the one year mark, his chances for needing surgery immediately went down. We're also understanding and more comfortable with what it looks and feels like to have a child with a medical need. Once you get past the shock, it feels more manageable to us. I start really having the desire to complete our adoption. 

Conversations begin to open up again. Ritchie and I both have the heart for adoption, we always have. We'd both LOVE to welcome another child (a girl, because, frankly, there's enough boys around here) into our family. The problem now is that we'd need to come up with over $20,000 to complete our adoption. We could do that, but it would take a few years and put a lot of other financial goals on hold. 

We've discussed other avenues of adoption before and nothing ever felt quite right to us until now. Very recently we opened the discussion again of fostering to adopt. I've reached out to other families doing this in our community and have heard some amazing stories and felt really inspired. Ritchie immediately opened up to this idea and, last week, we turned in our application to be licensed for fostering and adopting locally. 

There are many, many, amazing things about fostering. Opening your home to children in need of love and support during a frightening time is rewarding and teaches our own children about community and compassion. That said, this journey will not be without struggles. I'm not wearing my rose colored glasses here. I'm mentally preparing myself for the largest devastation my heart has ever endured. My biggest fear is falling in love with a child and then having to give her back to her birth mom/dad/grandparent. This will likely happen. A good foster parent IS attached to their foster child and has a child attach to them as well. This is part of the process.  It may happen a few times before we're placed with a child whose parents will have their rights terminated so that we can adopt. 

This will not be easy. So many logistics. Parent visits, phone calls, readjusting to a new child, then saying goodbye, then welcoming another one. We're open to newborns, so we're facing sleepless nights again. Tons and tons of unknowns. We will not know that the little girl we have will be ours forever until the courts finalize everything. Up until that last minute, it could always change. 

There's all of that, yes. HOWEVER, I hold out hope that one day we WILL adopt a girl who needs a family and our family will be complete and all of that heartache and headache and pain and hoop jumping will be 100% worth it. I know that ultimately we will not regret one moment of this decision. 

And so... here we go again. This life, 3 boys and foster care and adopting locally and maybe even an open adoption. This was all NOTHING I had ever dreamed of. And certainly the psychic never saw this coming! But, here we are. I'll update more as I know more, but for now we're just working on getting licensed. We should be done by September and welcoming our first placement of a little girl up to three years of age by the end of this year. 

For now, we hang on tight and enjoy the ride. And we stop trusting psychics. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Crosby is ONE

Our cute baby turned ONE a few weeks ago. What can I say about this unexpected joy that we have in our life?

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Okay, first let me tell you about the day! We took the boys to a kangaroo farm and got to see a ton of awesome animals and have a lot of interactions with them. It was a really cool experience.

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The big boys got most of the action that day since Crosby was in the carrier, but he did LOVE looking at the animals and got to touch a kangaroo and a mule.

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After lunch and nap we took the kids to Build-A-Bear, which is a tradition for us on each first birthday. The kids all still have their animals from when they turned one. Crosby chose the "Thin Mint Bear" which was pretty ridiculous, but it was the only one he got excited about.

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Then we had dinner and cake and called it a day! It was SO much fun celebrating as a family of 5.

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Crosby is the funniest little guy. He's energetic and stubborn and determined. He scoots along with one hand a leg all day long, opening cabinets, pulling out toys and snacks and racing to get to splash in the dog water. He LOVES to be around his brothers and isn't intimidated by them in any way. He holds his own. He's pulling himself up more and more, but I do think he'll be our latest walker and predict he'll start around 16 months. He's our strongest communicator for this age. He says, "dada, mama, ni-ni (night night), ball, uh-oh, and whoa" he signs for "more" and "all done" but mostly just grunts and stares and points until we cave and give him more or clean him up :) Sadly, he is NOT a smuggler, but he does give the world's best kisses. He loves animals, including his stuffed animals. He showers them with more affection than any human. He's about 21 pounds now and is the tiniest of our children for his age. His heart has remained unchanged since birth which is great for us! We get to just keep waiting to do anything more about it, and for now, I'll take that!

I never pictured my life with three boys, and Crosby was nowhere in our plans, but I'm SO freaking happy that life doesn't usually go according to my plans. Crosby is a gift to our family and we all love him SO SO SO much!

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Happiest of birthdays to you, my sweet boy.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

What I Read: March

I listened to this through Audible and the author was the narrator. It was an AMAZING listen. I highly recommend listening to it. The author is a minister and it's very religious, but even if that's not your thing, don't let it put you off. His work with gang members in Los Angeles is important and makes anyone want to move forward in life with a more compassionate heart. 

This was a YA book about a girl who dies and her mother seeks out why/how because she doesn't believe the results of the initial investigation on her daughter's death. I liked how the story wove itself together and it was a quick, easy mystery read if you're ever in the mood for that sort of thing! 

This was my book club book for the month. I've read a lot of Jodi Picoult and have always really loved the way she tells stories and this book was no exception! Such a great read and with a surprising element of elephant grief that I didn't expect to like, but really did. 

Yikes, I think I'm officially behind with my reading again! March was redo the kitchen month so reading got pushed a bit. Time to pick up speed! 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Kitchen Reveal Part 1

I say part one because there's still a bit more to do, but that won't be done for awhile so until then... here's the NEW(ish) kitchen! 

First let's look at what we were dealing with just 3 short weeks ago... 

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Here is what the kitchen looks like today: 

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First I tackled painting everything white. Then we did the ardex countertops on the main sink/prep area. Next we tackled the buffet area. Lastly, we hired someone to do the subway tile and Ritchie put on the hardware. The whole process took about 3.5 weeks and we still have a few things left to do. We need to replace the island countertops with butcher block, get different dining chairs and hang a bamboo shade for the window. 

The transformation is HUGE in this space. I can't even believe that a month ago the kitchen was an ugly oak kitchen with blue laminate counters. I'm thrilled with the change and the kitchen is definitely my favorite room in the house now! 

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